I took my three kids to Houston for Spring Break. We originally had a beach vacation booked. However, my husband had a last minute work trip scheduled during the middle of the week and my sister-in-law was going to be induced to have her second baby on Tuesday during our Spring Break week. We rearranged plans (canaceled the beach trip) and instead headed to Houston to be with my brother, his wife, and their son. I watched their son Kamin, along with my own three kids, while they went to the hospital to have their baby girl.
We got to Houston a few days before the baby was scheduled to be born so I decided to get the kids out of the house to do some fun things in the Houston area. I bought the City Pass for each of us. I highly recommend the City Pass because you can save almost 50% on admission prices. All of the places that I am recommending are included in the City Pass when you purchase the booklet. I am not getting anything for promoting the City Pass or the venues. I simply like to share good values and experiences with other parents.
Here is the link to City Pass:https://www.citypass.com/houston?mrkgcl=628&mrkgadid=3329550794&mv_source=rkg&adpos=1t1&creative=311562522361&device=m&matchtype=e&network=g&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIyczz56yJ4QIVDjFpCh3O_wAnEAAYASAAEgJ3RfD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds
Tip: If you do buy a City Pass or plan to visit any of these places on my list during Spring Break go first thing in the morning, before the venue opens. We didn’t do this for our scheduled zoo trip and it turned into no trip to the zoo. The zoo parking filled to capacity before we arrived, thus we were directed to park in public parking quite a distant away and take public transportation to the zoo. With four kids in tow, a stroller, diaper bag, backpack, and my own large purse I decided to skip it. I wasn’t about to take public transportation and risk the potential debacle of losing a child, making a public spectacle of ourselves because of whatever meltdown may have happened along the way, or having to yell at kids in public to keep them safe and by my side. Too many variables and too much effort. I decided to pass. Instead, we went to an indoor play area with giant inflatables. They jumped until they were worn out and didn’t seem to care about missing the zoo. I was nevertheless disappointed beacuase apparently it is a top notch zoo. The second most visited zoo in the country!
Spring Break is the same week for most Texas public schools. Therefore, we expected crowds. It was still a great Spring Break experience and the kids had a blast! I will have to remind myself next year to get to our venues first thing in the morning, wherever we are for spring break next year. That way we get parking and it is less crowded at the onset of our visit to each venue.
Here are the top 5 things to do with kids while you are visiting Houston, Texas:
1. The Houston Space Center
Here is what is said on their website: “Our space and science exploration learning center has more than 400 things to see and do. We have the largest collections of spacesuits and Moon rocks on public display in the world.”
The interactive exhibits for the kids were incredible. My kids who are 5, 5, and 7 had a blast! For more information check out their website: https://spacecenter.org
Below are some of our photos from our trip to the Houston Space Center, so you can see what you too can experience.
2. The Downtown Aquarium
Here is info from their website: “Downtown Aquarium is the product of redeveloping two downtown Houston landmarks – Fire Station No. 1 and the Central Waterworks Building. This magnificent six-acre entertainment and dining complex is a 500,000-gallon aquatic wonderland, home to over 300 species of aquatic life from around the globe. With a full-service restaurant, an upscale bar, a fully equipped ballroom, aquatic & geographic exhibits, shopping and a variety of amusements, Downtown Aquarium has it all!”
The aquarium featured a myriad of tanks with exotic fish and aquatic life. One particular highlight was petting and feeding the stingrays. Another highlight was a train ride through the property that went through a tunnel that was made of aquarium glass, which were filled with sharks. It was so cool! My kids were very impressed. The amusement park just outside the aquarium is lots of fun too! We bought the $6 armband for unlimited rides for each of us, so we enjoyed the rides while visiting the aquarium. Here is the website for the Downtown Aquarium: https://www.aquariumrestaurants.com/downtownaquariumhouston/default.asp
Below are our photos from the aquarium.
3. The Children’s Museum
The children’s museum was lots of fun and educational. We were there for three hours and didn’t even get to see everything that was there. It was a large facility and even with a crowd there the kids never had to wait to play and experience what the museum had to offer. The interactive exhibits were very entertaining for all of the kids, including my nephew who isn’t quite 2 yet. Below are our photos. Here is their website for more info: https://www.cmhouston.org
4. The Zoo
The Houston Zoo is located downtown within Herman’s Park. It is 55 acres. The zoo has over 6,000 animals from over 900 species. They have approximately 2.1 million visitors each year. According to Wikipedia it is the 2nd most visited zoo in the US. Here is the link to the zoo for more info: https://www.houstonzoo.org
5. The Houston Musuem of Natural Science
Info from Wikipedia: “The museum was established in 1909 by the Houston Museum and Scientific Society, an organization whose goals were to provide a free institution for the people of Houston focusing on education and science. Museum attendance totals over two million visitors each year. The museum complex consists of a central facility with four floors of natural science halls and exhibits, the Burke Baker Planetarium, the Cockrell Butterfly Center, and the Wortham Giant Screen Theatre (formerly known as the Wortham IMAX Theatre). The museum is one of the most popular in the United States.”
They have a large paleontology display. Lots of dinosaur bones. Need I say more?
Check out their website for more info on their 16 permanent exhibits and any current special exhibits on display: http://www.hmns.org
Houston is a busy city, so plan to leave early to find parking in public parking lots. Be sure to bring cash to pay for parking as well. The easiest parking was at the Houston Space Center. All others are downtown and require more time, patience, and cash when it comes to parking.
Expect traffic. It’s a busy city, so leave plenty early to get to your venue each day. Expect some stand still traffic during rush hour.
If you are going during Spring Break expect large crowds. It’s all part of the experience. Embrace the fact that you will be among lots of people, so be friendly, flexible, and allow for extra time with the crowds. You will have a more pleasant experience if you are willing to go with the flow. Lines will be a part of the Spring Break experience. Have some children’s movies or cartoon episodes loaded on your phone in anticipation that your children will not be as patient in the lines as you may like them to be.
Be safe. Keep all valuables out of view in a locked vehicle. If possible, don’t keep anything valuable in the car. Leave it locked in a safe at your hotel if you can. There are weird people everywhere. We were followed at one location by an odd man, who appeared to be on a date no less. He kept staring at my jewelry, especially my wedding ring. It was a good reminder to leave the valuables locked up at home when going to large public places in any big city.
Pack snacks like granola bars and fruit packs for the kids. The aquarium had ridiculous prices (i.e. $7.75 for a bucket of popcorn). I had small snacks in my purse and backpack, along with bottled water. It was just enough to keep the kids content until meal times.
Buy the City Pass online. You will save money if you plan to visit most of these venues. I was able to purchase ours the night before we needed them. They came to my email box within minutes of purchasing. I simply took my phone with the email to our first stop (the space center) and they gave us the City Pass booklets I had purchased. They scanned the barcode on my phone and handed me the booklets. Easy.